Title: Let It Be Me
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Visiting the library isn't very much like Sydney remembers.
Notes: No spoilers
There's gunfire echoing outside, and Weiss emerges from the van, gun ready, as Jack barrels down the alleyway. "What happened?" he mutters, barely audible above the noise, but Jack hears him.
"Our source turned," Jack explains. He strips off part of his disguise, a blazer that's torn and bloody, though from Jack's easy movement, it's obvious it isn't his blood. "They were waiting for me outside the building."
Angry shouts herald the enemy's approach, and they jump into the van, Weiss in the driver's seat, Jack in the passenger's seat, weapon in hand. He checks his ammunition, then nods at Weiss. "Ready."
Weiss accelerates immediately, screeching down the alley and turning in time see the looks on the thugs' faces before they dive out of the way. Then Weiss turns sharply, angles into regular traffic. He looks into the rearview mirror and curses.
Jack looks back, and curses as well, seeing two of the thugs commandeer a BMW from a very frightened looking businessman. Jack looks ahead, evaluates the situation. "Turn right at the third stop, then pull over."
"Right." Weiss does so, and they jump out of the van, leaving the engine idling. The alley Jack has chosen is narrow, with only two dumpsters and a shallow doorway providing shelter. At Jack's signal, Weiss crouches behind one of the dumpsters, seeing Jack press into the doorway right before their pursuers enter the alleyway, crashing into the van in the process.
Weiss tries not to think about car insurance.
The two thugs get out of the BMW cautiously, and fire a few rounds into the van before creeping down the alleyway. Weiss tries to decide whether he can get off any shots before getting shot himself, when a grunt and a muffled gunshot answer his question for him. He peeks around the dumpster to see one of the thugs on the ground, bleeding, and Jack grappling with the other man.
He contemplates giving Jack a hand, but it seems like he has a firm hold of the situation, as he's already disarmed his opponent. He wrangles the man into a choke hold, twisting his arm behind his back.
"Tell us where to find the book," Jack snarls.
The thug whimpers, and Weiss begins to mentally compose their mission report.
American University in Cairo, Four Days Later
Sydney adjusts the set of her auburn wig, cursing internally that she has to look like the perfect graduate student when the weather is above ninety degrees. The sun has plastered the silk blouse against her back, and she congratulates herself on rebelling against protocol enough to forego wearing the nylons provided in her luggage.
She stands in front of the doorway to the Rare Books and Special Collections Library, reminding herself that this should be a piece of cake, despite the fact that she has only a brief awareness of the field she's supposedly researching.
She breathes deeply, ignores the prickling between her shoulderblades, and walks inside, the picture of a studious American exchange student.
Sydney's paging through scholarly notes on early Muslim architecture, her hands gloved and her letter of recommendation and fake ID readily at hand.
She keeps an eye on the activity behind the circulation desk, which is directly in her path to the vault, where the Rambaldi text will be. Their source indicated that the text, while it might not be written by Rambaldi himself, includes vital clues about his work.
The interior of the building is cool, and it's been a while since Sydney's been inside a library. It's a nice change of pace, but any moment now, she'll get a chance to hop over the gate, slip into the stacks, and find the manuscript.
Or so she thought, until Sark walks through the door.
Her finger slips on the page she's turning, and she cuts her thumb. She curses, sticks her thumb into her mouth to soothe the sting, her eyes on Sark the entire time.
Sark's dressed as a student, just as she is, although he's probably posing as an undergraduate, if his jeans and button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up, are any indication. He's got an eye behind the desk as well, but his hands trail along the bookshelf, caressing the books.
For a second, Sydney is able to pretend that she is only a student, checking out the cute frat boy that's wandered into the wrong section of the library. It's been a while since she's seen Sark in jeans, and these ones fit quite snugly around him--he's obviously not posing as an American, because it's been years since she's seen boys back home wear anything but baggy, low-riding jeans.
She likes this style better, she has to admit.
She lets her little fantasy spool out in her mind, imagining that she'll catch his eye, smile a little mysteriously before she slips out the door, letting him follow her, if he's interested. Of course he'll be interested.
Then the attending librarian steps out for a bathroom break, and she watches Sark amble towards the vault.
Reality, she thinks, isn't nearly as fun.
There's no telling who else might be lurking between the bookshelves, and Sark knows that as well, because he takes his time walking behind the desk, pausing every once in a while to peruse the titles on the shelves beside him.
Sydney slips behind him, and he spins abruptly when she clears her throat.
"You don't want trouble any more than I do," she whispers.
Sark smirks, lets his gaze travel from her face to the still-damp blouse, and back up to the wig. She adjusts it self-consciously.
"That color looks lovely on you," he murmurs. "You should wear it more often."
Then, a stern-looking man walks past them, and Sark slips his hand around her waist, almost naturally. She tries not to stiffen visibly, smiles at Sark as if she hadn't seen the mercenary's eye them.
"There are other agents here," Sark murmurs into her ear. "We'll have to be discreet."
"Are you proposing an alliance, Sark?"
"For the moment, yes."
As the man tramps down the aisles, Sydney rolls her eyes and nods, if only to rescue a rare book from hands that will undoubtedly mishandle it. She points the direction she'll take, and Sark nods and sets off in the opposite direction.
They circle around the shelves, converging instinctively in the same spot, at the exact time the other agent appears. They take him down easily, Sydney stunning him with a blow to the solar plexus, and Sark kicking low, and dragging him to the end of the aisle, propping him against the wall, where he's unlikely to be found immediately.
Lightning-quick, Sydney pulls the tranquilizer gun from her purse and shoots Sark. He turns, looking hurt, and she can't resist the impulse to smirk back at him.
He crumples silently to the ground, and Sydney moves, jumping over the final barrier to the vault, the door of which is foolishly propped open, and locating and bagging the manuscript.
She strolls out of the library as if she had a research paper to write.
Los Angeles, Eleven Days Later
After the success of the Cairo mission, Sydney finagles a week off and spends most of it in the Los Angeles Public Library, perusing the collection of rare books with the aid of an actual letter of recommendation, and under her real name.
She takes breaks by browsing the poetry section, reveling in the half-musty, half-inky smell of the books, pulling them out at random and reading a couple of poems to herself before moving to the next aisle.
Sark catches her while she's mentally translating Neruda into English. He presses against her back closely enough that she can feel his gun in its holster.
"I could kill you, you know."
She shrugs, her heart racing. "Why don't you?"
He shifts against her then, and she can feel other things besides his gun. She remembers her idle fantasy in Cairo, and also how very, very deserted this section of the library is.
Sark smiles then, harshly, and turns her so that they're facing each other. "It doesn't seem sufficient punishment, really."
A part of Sydney's mind races to exactly what Sark might consider sufficient, but the rest of her sparks as Sark's mouth covers hers, and his hands encircle her waist.
She could disarm him now, Sydney knows, could grab the gun from beneath his jacket and force him to stand still while she called for back-up. Instead, her hand trembles, and the book of poetry threatens to fall from her hand.
Sark breaks the kiss to catch the book in his own hand. He places it back on the shelf, murmurs, "Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos."
Sydney starts to translate it, but then he kisses her again, and all thoughts fly from her mind. She kisses him back, opening her mouth to his as her hands press against his chest, sliding down as his hands slide up, caressing her breasts until she moans.
His lips trail down to her neck, then up to the point where her jaw begins, and she arches, bites her lip, and yanks at his belt. Now.
Sark inhales sharply as she unbuckles his belt, unfastens button and zipper as he yanks her skirt up, her panties aside. He hoists her up, bracing her against the bookshelf as they ease together, as quietly as humanly possible.
Sydney bites the shoulder of Sark's jacket as he begins to move inside her. The sensation is almost overwhelming; it's been too long, much too long since Sydney's had sex, and god, this feels good.
She wonders if anyone can hear them, their heavy breathing and barely muffled groans, and she's so very, very close, and fuck, Sark slides a hand between them, rubs her clit insistently, and Sydney whimpers, then bites her lip as she comes, blindingly, without a sound.
Sark follows, almost immediately, and at a rush of wet between her legs, Sydney is incredibly glad that she wore a long skirt.
They disengage awkwardly, rearranging their clothes with the ease that comes from wearing disguises almost constantly.
To Sydney's surprise, Sark turns to go without a word. She catches his arm and pulls him back, looking him directly in the eye, though she doesn't know what to say. "Sark, I--"
"No need to say anything, Agent Bristow." He smirks, then, and it's almost a slap in the face. "I look forward to meeting you again."
And he walks away.
A/N: The line Sark recited is taken from #20, from Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. You can find the poem and its translation here.
Originally posted here and linked at proclivityfans.